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R.I.P. Big Bird, the peacock sent from God

Staff writer

The legend of Big Bird, a peacock who wandered onto a sheep farm outside of Peabody more than a decade ago, has come to an end. The suspected culprit? A racoon.

The first sightings of Big Bird began more than 15 years ago by Peabody residents Gary and Marilyn Jones, owners and operators of the long standing sheep farm and bed and breakfast located south of Peabody.

Big Bird was a nomad of sorts, gracing neighbors surrounding the Jones farm with his presence frequently.

“I had always loved peacocks and tried convincing my husband into letting me have one when we first moved into our house,” said Myrna Wood, the Jones’ friend and neighbor across a dirt road. “He said no for the longest time. He and his brother got attacked by a couple of peacocks once and he wasn’t a fan, until one day, he finally told me to ask Gary Jones what he thought. When I asked him, he said no, that he had heard they could be mean.”

After Gary agreed that peacocks weren’t in the neighborhood’s future, Wood was convinced her dreams were dashed.

One day shortly thereafter, Big Bird made his grand debut, wandering onto the Jones’ farm like he had always belonged and was finally home.

“When he just showed up, I knew God had sent me that peacock,” Wood said.

And from there the legend began. Locals would drive by the sheep farm in hopes they’d get a glimpse of Big Bird, his beautiful feathers glistening in the sun.

“He just walked in one day grown,” said Marilyn Jones. “We fed him sunflower seeds and milo. People from all over could hear him when he’d let out his call.”

Not only did Big Bird help with bug control, he got along with the other animals on the farm.

“He left the chickens alone for the most part, but during mating season he’d try to enchant them,” said Jones.

Wood also recalls Big Bird exhibiting signs of mating season.

“We have a windmill in our yard that looks like a peacock,” she said. “He visited it frequently, checking it out. We always got a kick out it. I only saw his feathers all fanned twice, and it was beautiful.”

Although the Jones’ were hesitant, Big Bird quickly became a part of the family.

“At first we were scared he’d be a pest, but he just spread around his love, being a model citizen on the farm,” said Jones. “We never picked him up, just ooh’d and ahh’d over him, and he’d get two or three feet away from us.”

Marilyn remembered one exception after an ice storm wreacked havoc on their farm.

“He was roosting in a cedar tree near the house and just covered in ice,” she said. “That was the only time I ever picked him up. I carried him to the barn so he could thaw out.”

Although Gary Jones was initially skeptical when his neighbor brought the idea of a peacock up, he, too, grew fond of Big Bird quickly.

“He was his own bird. He must have been pretty wise, to live as long as he did,” he said.

After evading predators and living through the sometimes harsh conditions for more than 15 unpredictable Kansas seasons, Big Bird went missing about two weeks ago.

“Marilyn called me and asked if we had seen him,” said Wood. “We hadn’t seen him, but there were droppings on our porch, so we figured he was around.”

“It’s a sad story,” Marilyn said. “I found him out in the haybarn. We’ve had a problem with racoons around the farm, and he was up high enough in the barn rafters that we’re pretty sure that’s what it was.”

Marilyn’s eyes became heavy with sadness.

“I tried to save what feathers of him I could, as hard as it was,” she said. “We buried him in the pet cemetery, next to the cats and dogs that have came and went here on the farm.”

Last modified Jan. 25, 2018

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